Monash University: Monash mRNA projects get funding boost

Two Monash University projects using mRNA delivery to improve treatments for people with muscular dystrophy or metabolic liver disease in infants have received more than $360,000 through the mRNA Victoria Research Acceleration Fund.

The grants are part of $2 million in funding announced by the Victorian Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford.

Monash Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (MNHS) Dean Professor Christina Mitchell, Dr Meagan McGrath and Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Studies’ Professor Colin Pouton have received $266,000 for research into the development of a lipopeptide-based nanoparticle RNA delivery system for the treatment of muscular dystrophy or acquired musculoskeletal conditions.

The research, in partnership with Alfred Health, will include pre-clinical testing and if successful, will enable the team to seek industry support to progress the new treatment to clinical trials to potentially improve health outcomes for children born with muscular dystrophy, a disease that impacts 1 in 20,000 children.

Professor Mitchell said she was pleased to be awarded an mRNA Victoria Research Acceleration Grant.

“Not only is this award further proof of Monash University’s strong commitment to RNA and mRNA research it is also recognition, by mRNA Victoria, that this is an area of research that will be hugely beneficial to human health, across a broad range of medical applications and diseases,” she said.

Professor Pouton has also received $99,000 for research being conducted with the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI) into combining mRNA delivery with viral gene delivery to treat metabolic liver disease in infants and children using in vivo gene editing.

He said it was an exciting time for mRNA technology and its potential to transcend a broad range of medical applications.

“This grant will enable the two groups to combine expertise in mRNA and gene editing to develop a technological platform for gene correction with broad therapeutic applicability and a universal therapeutic approach to the treatment of infants and children with OTC deficiency,” Professor Pouton said.

The mRNA Victoria Acceleration Fund is the largest dedicated mRNA research grant fund in Australia, which seeks to support bold new ideas that will grow Victoria’s capability in RNA research, development and manufacturing, contributing to a viable and self-sustaining end-to-end ecosystem for producing world-leading RNA-based medical products.